Nominated in 2008 for a Pushcart Award in fiction, Bruce Pratt’s debut novel, The Serpents of Blissfull, was published by Mountain State Press in March of 2011. Pratt won the 2007 Andre Dubus Award in short fiction, and was a runner up or finalist for the 2007 fiction award from Georgetown Review, the 2007 flash fiction prize from Mindprints, the 2006 Ontario Prize, the 2005 Rick DeMarinis Short Story Award, and the 2003 Fiction Award from Dogwood, A Journal of Poetry and Prose. His short fiction has also appeared in The Greensboro Review, The Boston Fiction Annual Review, The Dos Passos Review, WordSmitten Quarterly Journal, Briar Cliff Review, Portland Magazine, Watchword, The Staccato Literary Magazine, The Gihon River Review, The Dalhousie Review, Puckerbrush Review, Cooweescoowee, Existere, Vermont Literary Review, Hawk and Handsaw, The Blue Earth Review, Diner, Roanoke Review, Potomac Review, The Wisconsin Review, The Platte Valley Review, The Binnacle, Apocalypse, Crosscut, Stolen Island Review, and The Trust and Treachery Anthology.
Pratt’s poetry collection Boreal is available from Antrim House Books. He is the winner of the 2007 Ellipsis Prize in poetry, a finalist for the Erskine J. Poetry award from Smartish Pace, and his poems have appeared in, Only Connect, an anthology from Cinnamon Press, (Wales) Smartish Pace, The 2007 Goose River Anthology, Revival (Ireland), Puckerbrush Review, The Naugatuck Review, The Poet’s Touchstone, Rock and Sling, Red Rock Review, Crosscut, Iguana Review, Sin Fronteras, The Tipton Journal, The Unrorean, Heartland Review, and Wild Goose Poetry Review.
Nonfiction and Journalism
His nonfiction has appeared in the Yale Anglers’ Journal, Vermont Literary Review, Hartford Courant, Bangor Daily News, Salty Dog, Bangor Metro, and Portland Magazine.
His short play Electrolysis was performed at the 2008 Maine Short Play Festival, and was included in the 2nd Annual Northern Writes Festival. Another short play Polygamy appeared in Literal Latte in 2009. Barter a one-act play was included in the 2010 Maine Play Festival and The Northern Writes Festival, where it won an audience choice award. His play Wednesday will be featured in the 2010 0-60 Longwood Play Festival in Virginia, and Beaching, a ten-minute play was part of the 2011 Northern Writes Festival and won the audience choice award.
Born 1951 Bronxville NY. Pratt grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Vermont Academy in 1969, Franklin and Marshall College with a BA in Religious Studies in 1973, The University of Maine with a Masters Degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing in 2001, and The University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA with a degree in creative writing with a focus on short fiction, and a concentration in Critical Theory in 2004. He and his wife, Janet, live in Eddington Maine.
You can find Bruce on Facebook and on his website at: www.bepratt.com
Do you have any recent events to announce (of publications or anything else exciting)?
My novel The Serpents of Blissfull was released by Mountain State Press of West Virginia last spring and is starting to be reviewed favorably.
What inspired you to write this story?
This story, as is the case with much of my dramatic work investigates couples in crisis. I thought that the idea of a man being able to rescue his ex-wife from real danger, but reticent to do so because he is prevented by restraining order to be closer than a prescribed distance would provide the opportunity to create some complex characters.
What books and/or authors have most influenced you?
James Joyce, all his work, especially A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, William Trevor’ short fiction and his novels, in particular The Story of Lucy Gault, Faulkner, Stegner, Chekov, Cormac McCarthy—will there ever be a villain comparable to the Judge in Blood Meridian? Contemporary writers. Jack Driscoll, Ivan Doig, Pete Dexter, Mike White, Joan, Connor, Clint McCown, as well as Frank O’Connor, Liam O’Flaherty, Sean O’Faolian. I read a great deal of poetry, and owe a debt to Yeats, Frost, Heaney, and we all owe Shakespeare. In my writing for theatre I owe Michael Kimball more than I can ever tell you. There are, truly, hundreds more.
What are you reading now?
I am teaching this semester and busy with a raft of projects, but I am reading and rereading several poetry collections at once, Sanford Phippen’s novel Kitchen Boy and Maxine Hong-Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, each for the second time in preparation for a course in the Honors College at the University of Maine
What are your current projects?
Two full length and one, one-act play, a number of poems, and the rewrite of a novel I first wrote a draft of more than a decade ago.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
You don’t need permission to do this, you need only the desire to stay with it. I meet writers all the time who lament that their work never gets published yet when I ask them about where they are submitting and how often, discover that they seem to be waiting to be discovered by some as yet unknown process. Chain yourself to the task at hand and don’t whine. I got seven rejection notices in one day, and the next day got one of my best acceptances ever. Don’t cave.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
Chekhov said, “Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.”
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
The 38 years of marriage to my wife Janet, and the great relationships that we have with our two sons.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
“You know a lot of words, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them.”
What has been the best compliment?
I live in impoverished Steuben County in New York’s very rural Southern Tier. It is much closer to Blissfull, West Virginia than your handy GPS device will tell you and so The Serpents of Blissfull set off some serious sympathetic vibrations in me. That said, it’s a book for everyone. The fabric of our nation long ago grew threadbare in places like Blissfull and yet people persevere, if only after a fashion. In the Bruce Pratt’s brilliant The Serpents of Blissfull, that perseverance runs the gamut from hopeless to hilarious. Pratt knows the boondocks and they’ll stick with you like a burr on a wool scarf after you read this innovative, insightful and sharp novel. Movie rights, anyone?
Barry Crimmins – political satirist, author Never Shake Hands With A War Criminal
Tell us something unusual (or fun) about you.
For two decades I made my living as a folk and blues singer/songwriter, and for fifteen of those years had the honor of touring once or twice a year with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and no I am not ever going to write about that. What happens in the dressing room, motor home, motel, club. Theatre, sailboat etc., stays there.